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Four of ten calls to the police 'a waste of time'

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Four of ten calls to the police 'a waste of time'
The SOS Alarm call centre in Stockholm. Photo: TT
12:52 CEST+02:00
Four of ten calls to the Swedish police hotline are nothing but a waste of precious time, according to the operator, citing calls seeking advice about disobedient children and angry hedgehogs as examples.
The second largest category of calls to the 112 emergency number are intended for the police and of the 617,000 calls per year, some 124,000 are never forwarded as they are not emergencies. 
 
Some do slip through however and others reached the police via their 114 14 direct line. 
 
"The incorrectly connected calls take up way too much of our time. It means that those who are in real need of help will have to wait," an emergency line operator told the TT news agency.
 
While 112 is a number which is common knowledge to most Swedes, many interpret the definition of emergency in wildly differing ways.
 
"One traffic warden called and wanted to know how he could get the registration number of a car based on the chassis number. The car was parked so close to another car that license plate could not be seen," the operator said.
 
Another perceived emergency, reported in an article in Police magazine, was about a man who called for urgent police assistance to remove an aggressive, hissing hedgehog.
 
The man was one in a series of callers who did not get the police assistance he required.
 
Other examples were parents seeking help with an angry child who refused to stop playing computer games. 
 
Most of the examples of extraneous calls are however more mundane, such as injured pets, street cleaning or other municipal matters. 
 
Anders Klarström at emergency line operator SOS Alarm has called for measures to reduce the number of non-emergency calls.
 
"It's a far too high figure of 40 percent, but it has gotten better. When it was at its worst, it was 60 percent that should not have called 112," he said.
 
Klarström argued that one of the problems is that 114 14 - the police number for non-emergency matters - is not as well known by the general public. 
 
"It has been around nine and a half years," he pointed out.

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